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University of Oxford (2014)

Processes of family law reform : legal and societal change and continuity in Morocco and Jordan

Engelcke, Dorthe Kirsten

Titre : Processes of family law reform : legal and societal change and continuity in Morocco and Jordan

Auteur : Engelcke, Dorthe Kirsten

Université de soutenance : University of Oxford

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy(PhD) 2014

Résumé partiel
The dissertation solves the empirical puzzle why similar regimes such as Morocco and Jordan vary in their engagement in family law reform between 1999 and 2013. Differences with respect to family law reform in the two monarchies are threefold : the way the reform processes were carried out, the content of the new family codes that were issued in Morocco in 2004 and in Jordan in 2010, and the way the laws were applied. Using Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of practice as a theoretical framework the dissertation establishes the links between the designs of the legal systems, how reform processes are carried out, the family laws countries end up with, and the way the laws are applied. French and British colonialism had shaped the legal systems of Morocco and Jordan to different degrees, producing a legal system that was unified after independence in Morocco whereas the Jordanian one continued to be divided into regular and religious courts. As a result, Moroccan family courts are less autonomous and more subjected to political decisions than Jordanian sharia courts. The institutional design of both judicial systems affected how family law reform was carried out because those systems contain biases towards different actors who are seen as competent of reforming family law and thus came to influence the reform process. The different access criteria to the juridical fields promote different types of cultural capital, so that actors participating in the process have different preferences regarding the development of the content of family law. In Jordan, the absence of the Jordanian king allowed the sharia court administration to exploit the structural bias in its favour and come to dominate both the process and content of family law reform. For this reason the 2010 Jordanian family law reflects to a lesser extent the demands of women’s groups. The absence of the Jordanian king from the reform process demonstrates that change in authoritarian states is not necessarily imposed from above nor is it predetermined from the beginning. The Jordanian reform process saw little engagement from the top-level of the regime and could be classified as a mid-level process. It was led by a government body, the sharia court administration, which however enjoyed relative autonomy from the upper echelon of the regime. By contrast, the Moroccan family law reform was a textbook example of authoritarian politics, the reform being imposed from above and the king playing a leading role during the process. In contrast to the process and content of reform, the application of the reformed law in Morocco challenges the notion of the omnipotent authoritarian regime.

Présentation (OATD)

Page publiée le 3 février 2023